Car production falls again as exports drop by a fifth

Honda cars lined up at Southampton Docks prior to being loaded onto a car container ship for export.

Honda cars lined up at Southampton Docks prior to being loaded onto a car container ship for export. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Car production has fallen for the eighth month in a row amid warnings that the sector faces a 'clear and present danger' from Brexit.

Around 120,600 cars left factories in January, down by 18.2% on the same month a year ago, a report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals.

Exports slumped by 21.4% to 93,781 vehicles, collapsing by 72% in output destined for China and by 20% to EU countries.

Manufacturing for the UK market fell by 4.8%, with the SMMT saying political uncertainty continued to dent consumer confidence.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: 'Another month of decline is a serious concern. The industry faces myriad challenges, from falling demand in key markets, to escalating global trade tensions and the need to stay at the forefront of future technology.

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'But, the clear and present danger remains the threat of a no-deal Brexit, which is monopolising time and resources, undermining competitiveness.

'Every day a no-deal Brexit remains a possibility is another day automotive companies pay the price in additional and potentially pointless costs. No-deal must be taken off the table immediately and permanently.'

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Almost a third of automotive companies responding to a recent SMMT survey said they had postponed or cancelled UK investment decisions because of Brexit, with one in five having already lost business as a direct consequence.

Around one in eight were relocating operations overseas and the same proportion cutting jobs.

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